Friday, June 15, 2012

How to Create a DonorsChoose Project

DonorsChoose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Teachers create projects, donors fund it, and students learn!

DonorsChoose.org - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.
How to set up a project:
It is very easy to set up an account and a new project with DonorsChoose. Just go to their website and set up an account. Then, take a look at some of the other projects teachers have submitted. You can even narrow your search to see who has submitted projects in your area or school district. Next, you need to decide what you want for your classroom. Your first project should be no more than $400. Once you decide what you want, click on "create a project" and begin the process. You will need a catchy title and opening sentence to attract attention. You will also need to describe your class and why your students need this project. The next step is my favorite: Shopping! There are quite a few stores in the eSchoolMall to look for your items, so you may want to take some time to browse and select just the right items. I used Best Buy for my first project and Lakeshore Learning for my most recent project, but you can use more than one store. Just find what you need and add it to your list. Once you have everything done you will submit it to the DonorChoose staff for review. If everything looks good, they will publish it. If they feel it needs tweaking, they will allow you fix it before publishing. I did not put a deadline on either of my projects - I just let them run for the 5 month limit. I didn't think my first project was going to get funded because it was getting close to the deadline, but at the last minute, it was fully funded! DonorChoose people work extremely hard to find donors. You can also promote your project via email, Twitter, Facebook, and your blog. 


Why I use DonorsChoose
It is very important for me to keep my students engaged and learning in new ways. Many school districts cannot afford to fund the extra equipment and materials that enhance the learning experience. DonorsChoose allows me to think big and meet the needs of my students without spending my own money!

My Projects: 
My first project (created July 9, 2011 and fully funded by October 2, 2011): webcam, USB microphone, video camera $349 

My current project: (created June 10, 2012): 4 portable cd players, 4 headphones, storage rack, and 3 listening skill packs $517 


*You earn points for doing all of the required steps of the project - including a timely thank-you package to your donor. You must also spend points to create projects, but after a few projects you will have earned enough points to apply for big ticket items including field trips and school visitors.


Key Stats (taken directly from DonorChoose)
Project requests currently in need of funding
18,277
Projects that get fully funded
70%
Projects costing less than $400 that get fully funded
80%
Donations that include the optional donation to our operations
89%
Teachers who said their funded projects increased their effectiveness in the classroom
94%